bunkerdes.war architectures I. david zapirain/ II. borja izagirre   I

The slim young guy who has just spent the whole day surfing didn’t see much of the belharra again today either. He did, however, spot the great-looking girl with the amazing curves as she put her borad away in her van and headed of down the road towards Sokoa.

Our slim young friend throws on his Italian shades and not really knowing where to go, follows the curves of the fine young thing gone before him. The girl has parked her van in the gypsy quarter and disappeared off down a pathway off the side of the roundabout. The slim young guy with the Italian shades sits down on the cement platform beside the the track. Little does he know....
...In the spring of 1941, Nazi first lieutenant Reese and lieutenant Schmidt occupied the gypsy quarter, hurriedly abandoned by its former inhabitants. A huge area. The 286th Navy Artillery Batallion spent a year on this under their orders.
The shapes in our slim young guy’s tattoos are well camoflauged by the plant on the platform. The plants, grafittis, empty soft-drink cans… "Where the hell am I after sitting down?" he asks himself. "What is this?" "A bunker or something?"
... bunker, blockhaus, barracks, command posts,... Reese and Schmidt, on the contrary, know exactly what these was buildings are for and where to build them. They were building a section of the Altlantic Wall. Theirs was zone Ba59 of the wall, a just a small fraction of the thousands upon thousands of explosives, machine guns, anti-aircraft artillery and so on sewn into the land between the rivers Bidasoa and Aturri. A little further on, the ‘X’- shaped wooden structures to hold back landing craft could be seen with binoculars on the beaches of Hendaye. The strongholds of Biarritze were a little too far away to be made out.
Nope, our slim young friend from Donostia knew nothing of this at all. But the interest awakened in him by the war building has caused him to forget his ardour towards the beautiful young girl. Just as that war has long been forgotten. The command post is a seat for him. The kids from the Basque school have long since taken over the bunkers (or whatever they are) at Abadia. The creeping advance of the belharra has eaten away the feet of most of these buildings. And these indestructible houses that sprinkled the beaches with steel and brimstone are still indestructible today. At least that’s what Reese and Schmidt would think. Reese and Schmidt knew a lot of things, but they bnever would have imagined that their indestructible buildings would be used for people to enjoy their freetime. They never imagined that people going to enjoy the salty fresh smell of the sea would cover them in graffiti, deckchairs, magazines, newspapers and plants.


In the past, in times of war, the military powers created us as strongholds to protect against the enemy. We are to be found all along the coast from Biscay to Iparralde (north of the Basque Country that lies in France). Rather than construct us on mountain peaks like castles, we were built on cliffs and beaches as protecters of the land, just as if we were rocks bludgeoned by the violent seas. Our frontier, the sea, has always been all we have in our sights. Before we were the favouite spot for snipers and nowadyas, on the other hand, we take up space that would be otherwise occupied by the most expensive houses, witnesses as we are to a small stretch of sea scenery and the wars of the past. Our thick steel and concrete walls and shelters form organic shapes as we blend into the clifftops, thus creating an artificial nature.
These walls, as if they were cotas of arms, only embraced the minimum "ergonomic" spaces hended for defence. We were the hiding `places for the men of war, and where we once saw violence and fighting through the wide slits that make up our eyes, we now gaze upon the peacefulness of people in their free time, a place where people, the sea, coves and memories meet. We may have changed but we’ve never lost the run of ourselves.

The person who has most theorised culturally on bunkers is Paul Virilio (Paris 1932). He spent ten years visiting bunkers on the Atlantic coast with his Leica camera and result of this research was his first book. An archeological study on the technologies of war “Bunker Archaeology. 1975”. The events of Auschwitz and Hiroshima along with the discovery of these bunkers marked Paul Virilio’s philosophical writings, concerned as he was with the destructive ability of new technology.